It's been a pretty meager year for network sitcoms. And if NBC's sneak peek at "1600 Penn" is any indication, 2013 won't bring much relief.
One of the few new
comedies to stand out is "The Mindy Project" on Fox, a spirited spin on "Bridget Jones's Diary" that stars Mindy Kaling as a 30-ish gy-
necologist with a burgeoning practice and a shambles of a social life. She's slightly overweight and prone to sleep with the wrong men, and she's willing to tell us all about it as she vows (nearly every day) to turn her life around.
Her character here is both different and essentially linked to Kelly Kapoor of "The Office." Kaling's Kapoor also was linked to the wrong guy and prone to fantasy and self-delusion. Both characters play with the ethnic stereotype of Asians as straight-A students, workaholics and briskly efficient professionals. (Kaling is an Indian-American, born Vera Chokalingam.) On "The Office," Kelly was the resident airhead and pop culture junkie, and on "The Mindy Project," Kaling dares to explore the messy (and very human) underside of a doctor's life while never tipping into the contrived soap operatics of "Grey's Anatomy" or other medical melodramas.
For the record, Kaling didn't have to look far for her character's inspiration. Her mother is a gynecologist.
Tonight, Fox offers viewers four chances to make a habit of "The Mindy Project" with repeat episodes: a bleak Christmas surprise (8 p.m.), a night on the town (8:30 p.m.), a minor matter (9 p.m.) and Mindy gets all fowled up (9:30 p.m.).
---Relics of experiments gone strangely awry loom large as "Mys teries at the Museum" (9 p.m., Travel) visits the Big Sandy Heritage Center in Pikeville, Ky., the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, and the Katy Depot Museum in Texas.
---Just what happened to Ralphie (Peter Billings-
ley) from "A Christmas Story"? In 2009, Billings-
ley directed the romantic comedy "Couples Re treat" (7:30 p.m., USA), starring Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Faizon Love and Kristin Davis. Recent reports have Billingsley and Vaughn teaming up again on a reality series about finding great new documentary filmmakers. The series, to be called "Pur suit of Truth," will air on TheBlaze, an Internet site and television network associated with former Fox News personality Glenn Beck.
---Jenna's terrible publicity concerns Liz on "30 Rock" (8 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).
---Charlie agonizes over the Little Red-Haired Girl in the holiday special "Happy New Year, Charlie Brown" (8 p.m., ABC, r, TV-G).
---A figure embroiled in a murky conspiracy becomes the "Person of Interest" (9 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).
---Dwight celebrates his heritage at the Christmas party on "The Office" (9 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).
---Meredith is in need of Heather's help on "Grey's Anatomy" (9 p.m., ABC, r, TV-14).
---The last five finalists must create outfits with a "wow" factor under the budgetary restraints of a real-world retailer on "Project Runway All Stars" (9 p.m., Lifetime). Store owner Elie Tahari helps officiate.
---Tammy II ruins Ron's big night on "Parks and Recreation" (9:30 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).
---A broker's apparent overdose doesn't wash with Holmes on "Elementary" (10 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).
---A tycoon client seems to unravel on "Scandal" (10 p.m., ABC, r, TV-14).
Bowling buffs (Jeff Bridges and John Goodman) become embroiled in an extortion scheme in "The Big Lebow ski" (8 p.m., Encore), the Coen brothers' 1998 send-up of film noir mysteries.
---Wolowitz experiences space fatigue on "The Big Bang Theory" (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).
---Wartime New Orleans becomes the setting of "The Vampire Diaries" (8 p.m., CW, r, TV-14).
---Reagan adjusts to working at home on "Up All Night" (8:30 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).
---Vincent offers to sacrifice his life for Cat's on "Beauty and the Beast" (9 p.m., CW, r, TV-14).
---Steve Carell, Rona Rousey and Ziggy Marley appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS, r).
---Marisa Tomei, Liz Carey, Sarah Colonna and Ross Mathews are booked on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!, r).
---Matt Damon, Martin Freeman and J.D. McPherson appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS, r).
---Ted Danson, Emilia Clarke and Larry Gee appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (midnight, ABC, r).
---Keira Knightley and Dave Matthews visit "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (12:35 a.m., NBC, r).
---Craig Ferguson hosts Ethan Hawke and Lynyrd Skynyrd on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS, r).
Kevin McDonough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.